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ERIC Number: EJ990040
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 30
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0095-182X
Pluralism, Place, and Gertrude Bonnin's Counternativism from Utah to Washington, DC
Newmark, Julianne
American Indian Quarterly, v36 n3 p318-347 Sum 2012
In the first three decades of the twentieth century, racial nativism wielded considerable direct and indirect influence on policies that affected broader American attitudes concerning Native American people. In this three-decade period, many factors caused the kinds of national insecurity and instability that make a cultural climate ripe for upsurges in protectionist nativism. America experienced its greatest wave of immigration, the nation's soldiers fought in a heretofore unimaginable global conflict, the African American northern migration began, and an economic collapse took hold. Between 1902 and 1938 Gertrude Bonnin came to understand that the employment of pluralist rhetoric could help her to textually and oratorically combat the zeal of race-based nativist nationalism and its narrow view of "national character." Further, her pluralist counternativism, with its specifically Native senses of reciprocity and place centrism, propelled her efforts toward political empowerment and land rights for Native people across tribes. This thirty-six-year period includes Bonnin's fifteen years in Utah and the final twenty-one years of her life in the Washington, DC, area. Because of her dedication to land rights as a necessary component of Native futurity, one can see across this time period Bonnin's evolving commitment to "place" (a concept that transcends territory and physicality) as the critical component of her activist work. Her unshakable commitment to place rights (which encompass personal, familial, and community traditions, histories, and futures) is the emblem, the author argues, of her pluralist counternativism. Bonnin's place centrism and its role as her tactic to invalidate the racial "logics" of nativism can be plotted from her Utah era political and activist apprenticeship to the fully developed pluralist counternativism of her Washington, DC, years. In this study the author traces this evolution. By establishing a context for Bonnin within the volatile nativist climate of the Dawes era and by recognizing the palpable countercurrent of the antiassimilationist leftist intellectuals of the period, one can better appreciate the complexity and uniqueness of Bonnin's political work. Bonnin insisted on the essential role that place must play (and has always played) for Native people as they strive for rights and acceptance in early twentieth-century America. This place centrism was Bonnin's tactic for untangling the knotty problem of race-centric nativism that propelled the policies that excluded and defined "marginal" Americans of many kinds in the 1910s and 1920s. (Contains 53 notes.)
University of Nebraska Press. 1111 Lincoln Mall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0630. Tel: 800-755-1105; Fax: 800-526-2617; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: District of Columbia; Utah